Dehd, the Chicago-based trio of Emily Kempf (vocals/bass), Jason Balla (vocals/guitar), and Eric McGrady (drums), have made grand steps forward on their latest album, Flower Of Devotion. Their 2019 record, Water, was all about not surrounding the songs with extras. Simple instruments, simple singing, and simple overall compositions. The indie approach worked but right from the first track on Flower Of Devotion you can hear something different from the band in 2020.
The opener, “Desire,” finds Kempf belting out the first line “Baby, I love you / Always thinking of you” that has a cool surf guitar riff rolling behind it when Balla then takes over the next lines. Now add the marching beat from McGrady and you have something special while Kempf then returns with an echoing higher vocal power of the title, “Desire,” that just grabs your attention. The track reminds me of several Jesus and Mary Chain songs with its delivery and emotional push.
This clarity and sharpness continues which is the true heart of the album and why Flower Of Devotion is so good. “No Time” is another highlight on the album where the vocal interplay is sophisticated and catchy while Balla floats his guitar riffs while also changing their tempo. Everywhere you turn you can just hear how much more confident Dehd are today. There are plenty of songs that they let just simmer to the correct temperature before they take you down a different and intricate path that you completely remember.
What I like about Dehd and Flowers Of Devotion is their overall authenticity. The band is lighthearted but also is always reaching to get out of darker shadows. Kempf’s vocals constantly reach high and shoot out over the instruments but only just barley. And when they do, it sounds like an intense gasp for air. Not only will several spins of this album win you over but it will also help you realize that Dehd has released one fantastic record.
Key Tracks: “Desire” / “Loner” / “No Time”
-Reviewed by Thomas Wilde